InMon – A Slide Turn

Last week on Inspiration Monday, they gave us the following prompts:

NETHERDOOR

CANIS EX MACHINA

BLINDSIGHT IS 20/20

PIONEER SPECIES

OPENING EPILOGUE

Check out the other responses here, or post your own!

inmonsterpromo

The artwork is by Cyril Rolando, otherwise known as AquaSixio, and is called The Magic Path.  If you’re ever looking for some inspiration for stories, I highly recommend visiting his work.  It’s whimsical and eerie and a little bit Alice in Wonderland.

the_magic_path_by_aquasixio

“You’ll never find it that way!” the slender little man giggled, juggling a quartet of oranges from the crate in front of the grocery store.  He was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day.

“Find what?”

“Shush!” Maggie hissed, grabbing her little brother by the hand.  She was 9, and had been assigned the important task of walking her brother home safely.  She took the responsibility to heart.

“Find what?”Jeremy repeated, throwing his weight back to resist the insistent tug on his hand.  He was 6, less inclined to avoid a potential adventure than his older sister and entertained by the juggling.

“Not what, it.” The man giggled again and added an apple to his trick.

“What’s ‘it’?”

“No it isn’t!” another cackle, another apple.  Mr. Ventura wouldn’t be happy if the man dropped and bruised all that fruit.  Maggie wondered why he hadn’t come out of the store to yell at them yet.

Jeremy glowered.  He didn’t like this game.  Maggie, on the other hand, was intrigued.  If she looked at the man out of the corner of her eye, he was dressed in ordinary clothing, and was carefully inspecting an orange.  Looking at him dead-on, though, he was a jester, oranges and apples flying through the air and weaving patterns.  Her class had been going over the five W’s in writing.

“Where is ‘it’?” she asked.

“What a silly child!” he laughed, “How grand!  The Netherdoor is anywhere and everywhere, but only at the end and the beginning.”

“If it’s anywhere, then when is it…” Maggie cast about for a good location for a door.  She pointed at the slide in the playground across the street. “There?”

“In a moment.  I’d hurry if I were you, and take my advice, it’s best to go back as much as is possible.”  He had a cantaloup in the whir of fruit now, though his alternate version was deeply engrossed in rapping his knuckles on the fruit.

“Why are your teeth so sharp?” Jeremy asked.

“Only as sharp as my wit, darling boy!”

“Ok.  Let’s go to the Netherdoor,” Jeremy accepted the logic and dismissed it.

“We’re not going anywhere, we’re going home,” Maggie replied, grabbing for her brother’s hand.  “Mom said no stopping, go straight home.”

The little boy sprawled on the ground, yanking at her arm.  “Noooooooooo,” he moaned.  “I want to go through the Netherdooooooooor!”

Jeremy’s method of getting what he wanted in public largely involved making it as difficult as possible for those around him to get things done until they’d agreed with him.  He was lying across the full width of the sidewalk, and, from past experience, Maggie knew he’d stay there, even with the threat of being stepped on.

Maggie glared accusingly at the man.  He was now juggling a half-dozen oranges and apples, a melon and three pomegranates.  Out of the corner of her eye Maggie could see that he was also bagging up a few persimmons, a bag of pomegranates already hung on his arm.

“How are you doing that?” she asked.

“Blindsight is 20/20 in the young, but what would you see out of the other corner?”  The man grinned, and Maggie wondered why Jeremy had said his teeth were sharp.

Maggie sighed.  “You’re ridiculous.”

“Thank you!”  The juggling man grinned in delight; his alter ego checked his watch.

“Get up, Jeremy, we’ll go climb the slide backwards but after that we have to go home.”

“YAY!” Jeremy was on his feet in an instant.  Maggie caught him and made him wait for the pedestrian light and all the cars to stop before they crossed to the park.

Maggie let Jeremy climb up on the slide first, and carefully pushed him up with his feet resting on the heels of her shoes and his arms around her legs.  The cars rushing past didn’t slow, there was nothing to see – just two children playing some incomprehensible game.

She had to bend forward and push off with her hands as well so that she could keep her balance.  All she could see was the scratched up shiny surface of the slide, chipped paint and sprayed tagging.  All she could hear was the squeak of the rubber of her shoes as she shuffled backwards, the traffic-sounds having gone quiet.  The sudden shift in gravity sent Maggie and Jeremy tumbling backwards, landing in a heap at the bottom of a shiny slide, mirror bright under the bright blue sky.

Jeremy and Maggie exchanged a look of shocked delight, taking in the candy-apple red slide, the skittle-bright gravel under their feet.  An elephant wandering past tipped its bowler hat solemnly at them.  Above the treeline, a licorice ferris wheel made a slow circle.  Without conscious thought, Maggie took her brother’s hand and headed towards the forest.

Faceless cars rushed past the empty park, and the man paid for his groceries and started home.  Out of the corner of her eye, a weary woman cutting through the park could have sworn she saw the man capering and juggling.  She chalked it up to a long work day and hoped she’d run into her children on the way home.  She’d been feeling anxious all day about their walk home alone, and had jumped at the chance to leave work early.  It would be nice to reassure herself that everything was fine.

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Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This week on Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood prompt, we were challenged to:

write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time one of your main characters finds himself or herself paying back a debt–financial or otherwise.

This is a bit of a spin-off from the Which Witch storyline.  I liked a temporary character found in Shades too much to just get rid of her, so here she is, resurrected.

This image is by Artoftheoldschool on DeviantArt – you can get to their page by clicking on the cottage.  You’ll notice the cottage isn’t made of gingerbread.  Gingerbreading, also known as stick style, is only captured a little in this particular cottage, but I love the dark feel of it.  It looks like it could be located deep in the dark woods.  If you’re looking for more explanation of gingerbreading/stick style, I suggest google images.  Just ignore the ones made of gingerbread.

“You’ll be repaying me for that meal, surely?”

The siblings’ heads snapped up in surprise, the older girl automatically moving to shelter her brother.  Their faces were smeared with their guilt and gluttony, icing and crumbs and sticky sweet honey.

They quaked in fear, trapped against the gingerbread wall, the old woman blocking their escape.

The sunlight trickling through behind her gleaming through the rough chop of hair that escaped from under her head scarf and cast her face in shadow.

“Please, mistress, have mercy!” the girl quavered, tears welling in her blue eyes.

“Mercy for thieves?”  The woman’s voice was worn and cracked, the harsh caw of her derisive laugh echoing in the stillness.

The forest air was heavy with silence, devoid even of the constant background hum of insects.

“We was hungry,” the boy cried, wet lips sulky.  His ruddy cheeks were plump, the button holes on his shirt stretched tight by his rotund torso.

“Oh was you?” the old woman crouched down, her short-cut pants riding up to reveal grubby knees.  Out of the sun, her smile-creased face was revealed to the children, though her expression was grim and fearsome.

The children shrank back, the girls tears running faster, splotches of red marring her pale cheeks.

“We don’t have any money, Mistress.  Please!”

The woman’s weathered hands closed tightly on each child’s wrist and she hauled them to their feet with ease.

She cackled as she dragged them up the worn steps to the door.

“What use have I for money?”

The door slammed behind them with ominous finality, made more ominous by the old woman’s confidence in releasing her grip.

The boy rattled the knob, but to no avail.

“You’ll just make her angry!” his sister hissed, tugging his wrist.  They moved through the shadowy house, and found their captor humming as she stirred the contents of a steaming cauldron.

Without turning, the woman gestured with her spoon towards the corner of the room.  “Broom, mop and bucket, boy.  I want floors so clean I could eat off them.”

“Gregor.”  He tried to sound fierce.

The woman turned and raised one eyebrow.

“M-my name is G-gregor.  And sweeping is servants’ work.”

“Well, Gregor, I am the Witch Gretal Baer.  Broom.  Mop.  Bucket.”  She smiled wickedly at the way his face drained of colour.  He swept feverishly, as though speed of movement could save him.

The witch turned to the little girl.  “And you?”

The girl managed a wobbly curtsey.  “Hansine, Mistress Baer.”

“You will start by scrubbing the dishes and cleaning the counters.”  The witch turned back to the cauldron but was called away by a nervous throat clearing.

“Are you going to eat us?”  She quailed at the expression on the witches face.  “Only, the townspeople say you eat children.”

The swish of the broom stopped.

The witch Greta Baer smiled her most ferocious.  “If I am known for cooking up children, then why on earth would you eat a pie on my sill?”

Green-faced, the children rushed to their chores with vigor.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

This is the second Red Writing Hood piece I’m posting.  The challenge was to write a post beginning with a countdown – “Three, two, one” – and up to 300 words.  Some of the examples they gave were disciplining our kids, gathering up nerve, blasting off into space, or getting ready to pop champagne and scream “Happy New Year”… I didn’t do anything remotely like that, but I still think the countdown in my story works pretty well.  Clearly I’ve been watching/reading too many fairy-tale themed things lately.

“…Three… Two… One!”

The woman in red smiled hugely in anticipation, her sharp white teeth flashing in the weak winter light, bright eyes gleaming with madness.  She turned her horse and set off at a trot, following the trail of disturbed snow her prey had left.

***

The wolf panted heavily, struggling to go faster, struggling to overcome the searing pain of the foothold trap clamped down on his leg.  The pain was maddening, dulling his survival instincts and blurring his sight.  In the distance, he could hear the madwoman laughing wildly, the heavy thud of her mount’s hooves as she approached.  He scrambled across a half-frozen creek, dragging himself along the rocky verge in hopes of throwing her off the trail.

***

She found her prey near a small pond, weakly lapping up muddy water.  Triumph and madness intermingled in her face.

“You think you can eat my Gran and get away with it?” she cried, brandishing a wickedly sharp axe, handle stained the brown of old blood.

“Please,” the creature begged, “Please, I didn’t do it! It wasn’t me!  You already killed him.”

The madwoman showed no sign of hearing his plea, as she dismounted and pushed her crimson cloak back on her shoulder.  “You thought you could eat the woodsman’s mother, just because he’s too old to come after you?”

The wolf whimpered, staring up into the eyes of madness.  “How many more, Red?  How many until your revenge is complete?”

The woman swung the axe with both arms, severing the wolf’s head in one blow.

“My, what red blood you have,” she murmured before remounting and riding off in search of the next hunt.

Distant wolfsong warned of Red’s approach.
Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood